Events for February 2023

Advocacy update August 9, 2022

Advocacy update August 9, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection

Ariel Miller is joined in today’s advocacy update by Becky Surendorff of Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming, who is working to reform Ohio’s laws so sexual predators are exposed and held accountable.

Highlights of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the Senate Aug. 7

In a dramatic marathon session Aug. 6-7, the United States Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by a vote of 51-50 under the reconciliation rules that bypass the filibuster. The House of Representatives is scheduled to return Friday, Aug. 12 to vote on the bill.  Contact your Representative with your views this week.

If the IRA passes:

  • 13 million Americans will continue to get expanded ACA tax credits capping their health insurance premiums at 0% to 8.5% of their monthly income.
  • Medicaid recipients will be protected by a $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug costs and a $35 monthly cap on insulin premiums
  • The climate provisions of the bill are projected to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, a giant boost towards our diplomatic commitment of 50%.
  • The bill’s cost will be more than offset by a 15% minimum tax on corporations with more than $1 billion in revenue, Medicare savings, a 1% excise tax on stock buy-backs, and higher IRS collections from tax evaders.
Inflation Reduction Act shields 13 million Americans from steep health care costs

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed Aug. 7 by the US Senate will extend pandemic increases in federal health insurance subsidies through 2025 if the House of Representatives approves the bill this week.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), over 13 million Americans are paying significantly less on health insurance thanks to the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which expanded the Affordable Care Act’s monthly tax credits.  Many Americans without employer-provided help have qualified for these subsidies for the first time because ARPA removed the eligibility limit of 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). If the IRA passes, millions of enrolled people with incomes between 100% and 150% of the FPL will continue with zero monthly premiums, and can choose silver plans with an average annual deductible of $177, compared to $6,900 without ACA cost-sharing reductions, KFF reported.  Americans will lose these expanded tax credits in December if the House of Representatives does not pass the IRA.

In addition, the IRA significantly cuts costs for people on Medicare. For the first time, it allows Medicare to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, and limits the out-of-pocket drug expenses of Medicare recipients to $2,000 a year. “As it stands now, annual out-of-pocket costs can exceed $10,000 for the most costly drugs since Part D has no out-of pocket spending cap,” tweeted Juliette Cubanski of the Kaiser Family Foundation on August 5. The IRA also caps Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket monthly insulin costs at $35.

Extending the ARPA subsidy increase will be especially significant for older people, since premiums increase by age. The extended ARPA subsidies will also shield them from what the KFF calls a double whammy: a projected 10% rise in premiums in 2023. “Some people’s health insurance costs would have gone up 50-100% at the end of the year” without the Inflation Reduction Act, wrote Al Thompkins of Poynter.org.

The Kaiser Family Foundation offers an example of the ARPA premium savings using their subsidy calculator. “If the ARPA hadn’t passed, a 60-year-old couple with an income of $70,000 would have had to pay $1,859 per month (or $22,307 over the course of 2022) for a full-price silver plan,”  they report. The KFF calculator shows that “the same couple currently pays $496 per month (or $5,950 over the course of the year)…So, if Congress extends the ARPA subsidies, this older middle-income couple will save over $16,000.”

Democrats were unable to extend Medicaid to over 2.2 million people in the 12 states that have so far refused to accept the Medicaid coverage for working age adults under the Affordable Care Act. The first Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA made this expansion optional, up to states to decide.  The ACA expanded Medicaid to provide free coverage to people with 0% -138% of the federal poverty limit. ACA subsidies only began for people making over 100% of the FPL.

Independent analysis predicts Inflation Reduction Act will cut US emissions 40% over 2005 levels by 2030

In a dramatic session Aug. 6-7, the United States Senate passed a bill with the most significant climate action incentives in US history. Princeton University’s REPEAT (Rapid Energy Policy Evaluation and Analysis Toolkit) project has posted a preliminary report analyzing the energy system and climate impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act.  The analysis estimates that the policies in the bill will cut US emissions roughly 1 billion tons by 2030, reducing US greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels. The United States has made the diplomatic commitment to cut emissions 50% by 2030 in the quest to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

By comparison, the EPA reports that between 1990 and 2020, gross US greenhouse gas emissions decreased by only 7%.The huge cuts in emissions offered by the new legislation have global significance because the US is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in history, currently second worst in the world, and this policy change would give the US new leverage in advocating for climate action by other nations such as China, whose emissions are currently the highest.

The Inflation Control Act focuses on transportation and energy generation, the two most greenhouse-gas polluting sectors of the U.S. economy according to the EPA. The Inflation Control Act, which is expected to pass in the US House of Representatives later this week,“puts us within a close enough distance that further executive action, state and local government efforts and private sector leadership could plausibly get us across the finish line by 2030,” said Jesse Jenkins, PhD,  who leads the REPEAT Project.

An NPR story cited a similar preliminary analysis by the Rhodium Group: “’We find that the provisions in the IRA can put the U.S. on track to reducing emissions by 31-44% below 2005 levels in 2030,’ said communications director Maggie Young. That’s a significant change from the group’s previous projections.”

Ohio House Bill 266 would shield children, not sexual predators

HB 266, also known as the Hidden Predator Act, was introduced in April, 2021 and referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee, where it has languished since then without a single hearing. The bill seeks to reform Ohio’s rape and sexual abuse laws by:

  • Eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for rape
  • Extending the civil statute of limitation for victims to report child sex abuse to age 55
  • Creating a 3 year civil lookback window for child victims (“hidden predator bill”)
  • Closing the spouse loophole in Ohio rape laws

Child USA estimates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 13 boys will be sexually abused by age 18. Predators can average 150 victims in their lifetime. Statutes of limitations (SOLs) set the deadline for pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse. However, sexual abuse has lifelong traumatic effects and many children do not disclose abuse as a child. Research indicates that the average age victims disclose abuse to a trusted family member or therapist is 52.

Currently, Ohio gets a grade of F from ChildUSA—a national expert on child sexual violence—for its statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims. A guest column from the August 7 Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer relates the sexual predation by Cincinnati Catholic priest, the Rev. Charles Drew, that mobilized the writer of this post, Rebecca Surendorff of Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming, to advocate for urgently-needed legal reform. House Bill 266 would be a promising step towards protecting children and getting justice for victims. Please call and email the lawmakers below and tell them to pass HB266:

Background on HB 266 and sexual abuse of children

Reforming Ohio’s sexual violence statute of limitations gives victims access to the court system when there is sufficient evidence for a trial, and identifies previously unknown sexual predators. This protects kids and shifts the costs of abuse from victims to offenders.

Kathryn Robb, Esq., Executive Director of ChildUSA and a survivor of child sexual abuse, says, “Every day that legislative leaders fail to act, is another day the children of Ohio are in harm’s way…We are not talking about ‘slip and fall’ cases or fender bender cases, we are talking about the sexual assault, rape, and sodomy of our children. It’s simple—restrictive statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse protect the sexual predator and those that harbor them: not children. Many states across the country are taking a zero-tolerance position on sexual abuse to children. Ohio, on the other hand, remains fully tolerant and accommodating of sexual predators, offering them and the institutions that conceal them the highest levels of protection. Shame on them.”

House Bill 266 is currently in the Criminal Justice Committee and needs a hearing. Phone calls and e-mails to Ohio State House leadership are needed to move forward this legislation. The current and five previous Ohio Attorneys General signed an open letter in 2019 calling on the Ohio Legislature to end the statute of limitations on rape bills. Their position is supported by the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and longtime community advocate. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com